Live & Learn: Cultivating Self-Awareness for Career Planning

by Sharon Fleshman

As we move toward the end of the semester, many of you will write papers, prepare oral presentations, or take final exams based on what you have learned over the last few months. I hope that you will look beyond the classroom to extend your learning by reflecting on activities such as group projects, extracurricular involvement, internships and field placements. Here are some questions to get you thinking about some of these activities:

  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What energized you the most and why? What drained you the most and why?
  • What strengths and weaknesses became apparent to you and how did you act on this self-knowledge?
  • Where and how did you make the most impact?
  • What experiences made the most impact on you and how so?
  • What motivated you the most and why? How did you motivate others?
  • How have you grown through these experiences?

As you review your reflections, look for themes that highlight your skills, interests and work values as this can help you assess various career options.  You will gain self-awareness that will be pivotal not only to your professional development, but also to your job search, especially as you go on interviews and make career decisions.   

Let the learning continue!

Three Skills to Master During Your Job and Internship Search

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

While it can be helpful to consider your job or internship search as a process and create a plan to provide some structure to an otherwise “unstructured” process, consider mastering and utilizing the following three skills as your search unfolds.

Persistence. Some opportunities in life do not come easily. You can take the necessary steps and do the right things initially but that does not guarantee a successful outcome right away. Persistence may involve more effort and require additional work on your part, but that could be what’s necessary to secure your desired job or internship. Be careful – there is certainly a fine line with this as you should avoid extremes. Keep in mind that a lack of a timely response from an employer does not mean you are removed from consideration. Take the time to follow-up on your application – that extra step may be just what you need to get you closer to your goal.

Resiliency. Maintaining a positive attitude and moving forward after rejection can be difficult – especially if you have experienced it on multiple occasions. But your ability to bounce back, move forward and continue with your search can reveal positive things about your character. Life is not easy and we all encounter setbacks on occasion (we really do whether we like to admit it or not) – the search for jobs or internships is no different. Try to take a step back and reflect on the many things you have accomplished, the challenges you have overcome in the past and do your best to move forward in search of new opportunities.

Adaptability. Having a plan can be comforting – executing your plan as intended, even better. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? In these situations, consider adjusting your tactics or trying something new. Depending on the circumstances, the willingness and ability to alter your approach to your search may improve your fortunes.

CS Radio Episode 19 – “The Academic Job Search Handbook”

episode 19

This week, Mylène and Michael are honored to welcome Julie Vick into the studio.  Julie is the co-author of The Academic Job Search Handbook, which has just been released in a new 5th edition.  Julie talks about her many years of working with graduate students in Career Services, the challenges facing them today and why The Academic Job Search Handbook is such an important tool.  We also discuss the many services offered to Penn PhD students on the academic and expanded job search.   All that, plus the usual run down of this week’s events.


Is It Summer Yet?

With the arrival of Spring and warmer temperatures this week, many students’ thoughts are starting to turn toward the summer. A number have been asking, “What should I be thinking about for my summer job?” Some of you may have secured your dream internship, others are pursuing roles outside of their full-time target industries, and some are still looking for the right fit.

Wherever you are in the process, here are a few thoughts for getting the most out of your summer experience:

  • Ask questions. Lots of questions. Don’t be afraid of looking like you don’t know all the answers – chances are, you don’t.  Regardless of the program, company, or role you take on, it’s highly unlikely that you know everything about it. Asking questions can serve two main purposes – it will 1) show your manager, team, or colleagues that you’re engaged, interested, and thinking about the work, and 2) in turn, give you the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the industry, organization, clients, etc.
  • Put your best effort into everything, even the small tasks. Chances are, you won’t be speaking directly with clients and closing multi-million deals as an intern. There are, however, things that you can do to make your team’s life easier and help build their trust in you. If your colleagues can’t trust you to get something that might seem trivial and irrelevant – for example, data entry, formatting, or a lunch order – correct, it will be difficult for them to trust you with higher-stakes tasks.
  • Remember that this is an opportunity to build valuable skills, knowledge, and relationships for the future. What if your summer internship isn’t all you thought it would be? Or if you are doing something completely unrelated to your target industry? You can use it to gain skills and knowledge that are transferable later on. Whatever job offer you end up taking, remember that someone is giving you an opportunity. Keep a positive attitude, do your job well, and make an effort meet people throughout the organization. You never know where this summer may lead, but it certainly will be one of the first steps on your longer-term career path.

If you have any questions at all, you can always stop by our office to speak with an advisor. Have a great weekend!

Do You Want to Be a Professor?

Julie Miller Vick

ajsh5The Academic Job Search Handbook, 5th edition (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), is a comprehensive guide to finding a faculty position in any discipline. Beginning with an overview of academic careers and institutional structures, it moves step by step through the application process, from establishing relationships with advisors, positioning oneself in the market, learning about job openings, preparing CVs, cover letters, and other application materials, to negotiating offers. The handbook includes a search timetable, more than 60 sample job hunting materials from successful faculty job applicants, appendices of career resources, and a full sample application package.

This new edition features new or updated sections on issues of current interest, such as job search concerns for pregnant or international candidates, the use of social media in the job search, strategies to address CV gaps, and challenges faced by dual-career couples, including same-sex couples. PhDs, EdDs, MFAs and others who are seeking or will seek an academic position will find in the Handbook advice and anecdotes from those who have been on the academic job search previously.

The book is authored by Penn Career Services graduate student/postdoc advisors Julie Vick and Rosanne Lurie and former Penn Career Services advisor Jenny Furlong.

Here are some quotes from Penn doctoral program graduates who used the 4th edition of the Handbook in their academic job search and provided feedback about it to Career Services in their Career Plans Surveys:

  • “The academic job search is a long and stressful process, so it pays to start early. I picked up a copy of the Academic Job Search Handbook in the summer before I went on the market. It was SO incredibly useful in giving me an overview of the process. I can’t recommend it more highly.” (Assistant Professor of Advertising)
  • “The Academic Job Search Handbook provides the necessary advice. It helped me a lot. Be open-minded and scale down your expectations, esp. in this academic market…”  (Assistant Professor of Political Science)
  • “I love the Academic Job Search Handbook!”  (Assistant Professor of Music)
  • “The Academic Job Search Handbook was a useful resource in preparing for interviews.  Practicing answers to common interview questions ahead of time was very helpful.”  (Postdoctoral Fellow, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics)

Career Services and the Penn Press make it possible for current Penn doctoral students and current Penn postdocs (who have completed at least one year of their postdoc) to purchase the book for the discounted price of $10 (with PennCard). Others may purchase it through Amazon, other booksellers, or the University of Pennsylvania Press,, at the regular retail price of $19.95. It is also available to be read in the Career Services library.